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From the very beginning, the self-proclaimed "youth gone wild," Sebastian Bach, with his lanky frame, long flowing blonde hair and ear-piercing wail, was among those who personified the '80s rock 'n roll singer. As vocalist for the "hair-metal" band, Skid Row, he made a name for himself as the sometimes impulsive and reckless frontman before Nirvana single-handedly defeated the genre in 1991 - only two years after Skid Row's recording debut. But where his peers simply became relics of a decade of big-haired excess, Bach seized the opportunity to transform himself into a more versatile performer. In a surreal turn of events, while the rest of his metal-head comrades were watching their fortunes fade, Bach found himself moving from Skid Row to a much better address on Broadway.
Born on April 3, 1968 in Freeport, Bahamas, Sebastian Philip Bierk was, along with brother Zac and sister Dylan, raised in Peterborough, Ontario, the son of painter David Bierk. All throughout his teens, the former choir boy would find himself singing in a handful of bands such as Herrenvolk and VO5. Already looking to carve out a lofty persona for himself, young Bierk adopted the grander surname of Bach from the famed German composer. Several later bands - most notably Madam X and Kid Wikkid - received a fair amount of visibility across Canada, allowing the energetic Bach to go on the road. By 1985, Bach met and began begun dating 21-year-old model Maria Aguiar, who would serve as the rock in his soon-to-be tumultuous rock star life.
In 1987, Bach came to the attention of New Jersey-based guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo, who was closely associated with fellow Jersey boy Jon Bon Jovi and putting a band together of his own. At the wedding of rock photographer Mark Weiss, Sabo spotted Bach jamming with Quiet Riot vocalist Kevin Dubrow. Weiss introduced the young singer to an impressed Sabo, and the 18-year old Bach was asked to finalize the line-up of Skid Row after hearing the band's tape. The original quintet made its debut at Rock 'n Roll Heaven, a Toronto club, in January, 1988; in March, Bach and Aguiar had their first son, Paris. Sabo was soon able to use his Bon Jovi connection to secure a recording contract with Atlantic records, resulting in the band recording its debut album. Released a year after its live debut in January of 1989, the album, entitled Skid Row, became a massive calling card, selling over four million copies and unleashing three hit singles, notably the rocker "Youth Gone Wild," the song that had convinced Bach to join, and power ballad staples "18 and Life" and "I Remember You."
Touring behind the album during the whole of 1989, the band was already getting a taste of the highs of the rock 'n roll lifestyle while gigging with Bon Jovi and Boston rockers, Aerosmith. Bach, however, was already gaining a reputation as something of a hell-raiser. In December, while opening an Aerosmith show in the headliner's home turf of Massachusetts, Bach was hit in the face by a bottle, and while trying to hurl the bottle back at its pitcher, reached an unintended target. A girl in the crowd received skull damage and lacerations to her face when the bottle Bach threw flew in her direction. The rocker then leapt into the crowd and ended up physically assaulting another audience member, resulting charges of assault and battery as well as assault and battery with a deadly weapon. He received three years probation. Soon after the bottle incident was behind the band, another problem arose. This time, a photograph surfaced in print of Bach in a t-shirt which offered the pronouncement, "AIDS Kills Fags Dead." A remorseful Bach subsequently chalked the incident up to youth and made amends by clarifying the incident - and his position - on the MTV network.
In 1991, Skid Row was back to focusing on music and its second album, Slave to the Grind, become the first heavy rock album to enter the Billboard Charts at #1. The band sunk its teeth into a much harder sound, and Bach's sharpened skills as a frontman were evident on rough-edged tracks like the album's title cut, "Monkey Business" and the moody ballad, "Quicksand Jesus." The quality of their road shows was markedly stronger, as the group hit the road with white hot rockers Guns 'n Roses. A shirtless Bach was even featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Unfortunately, the band's higher profile did not translate into sales, and Grind was unable to repeat its predecessor's multi-platinum status. A covers EP, B-Side Ourselves (1992) did little to help. On a sunnier note, Bach's family life was still strong, as he and Aguiar were married in July, 1992, with a second son London arriving in January of 1994.
Somewhat at a loss for direction in the wake of the Seattle grunge movement's stranglehold on the music industry, by the mid 1990s, the band fell out of favor. Its next studio album, Subhuman Race (1995), failed to make a dent with both listeners and sales charts. The album featured a thrashier, rawer sound, different from the anthemic lighter-wavers that propelled them to success. Music fans were no longer looking for flamboyant, flashy frontmen, but introspective singers like Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, who eschewed the bombast of party rock. Shortly thereafter, Bach was asked to leave Skid Row, and the band soon folded as many of its peers had, renaming itself Ozone Monday and hiring a new singer to explore a more modern sound.
Adrift without a band, Bach looked to find a new musical outlet. He hooked up with The Breeders' Kelley Deal, Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain and ex-The Frogs guitarist Jimmy Flemion to record a cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out" for the film "Scream" (1996). In 1997, their project, entitled, The Last Hard Men, recorded a full-length self-titled album for Bach's old label, Atlantic, but the album was shelved and eventually released in 2001 on a smaller label. Bach soldiered on and got to work on his first true solo effort. He brought along with him Flemion, with whom he had bonded, and the result was Bach: Bring 'em Bach Alive (1999). That year, Bach was also making inroads into acting, landing his first major acting appearance in the rock comedy feature, "Final Rinse" (1999).
While touring through 2000, Bach's old label, Atlantic, soon had another proposition for the singer: a Broadway musical. Bach was wrapping up a solo gig in Los Angeles and immediately flew to New York to audition for the popular "Jekyll & Hyde" (1997-2001). Two weeks later he received the producers' decision and in June, made his Broadway debut as the doctor and his chilling alter-ego, replacing soap star-singer, Jack Wagner. Bach claimed to have turned down roles in "Rent" (1996- ) and "Phantom of the Opera" (1986- ), but found inspiration in "Jekyll & Hyde"'s mixture of rock 'n roll, sexuality and melodrama. His imbuement of the character mesmerized critics and fans alike, turning many rock fans into minor theatergoers. Bach brought his rock and roll virtuosity to the table, singing the music a full octave higher than originally written, and during the first show's standing ovation, chomping into a congratulatory rose before spitting out its petals. The success of the role landed him in contention for Warner Brothers' "Metal God" movie (later renamed "Rock Star" (2001)), but scheduling commitments and a passion for the "Jekyll & Hyde" gig kept him firmly on Broadway.
Following the run of "Hyde," Bach had another onscreen appearance, this time flexing some grittier chops in the action thriller, "Point Doom" (2001). He then segued into another Broadway institution, debuting in October 2001 in the role of Riff Raff in a revived "The Rocky Horror Show" (2000-2002) - which at one point, featured rocker Joan Jett as well. Almost two weeks later, he made an appearance on the VH1 series "Strange Frequency" (2001) as the Grim Reaper.
In March, 2002, Bach was arrested for drug possession and threats made to a bartender in his home state of New Jersey. The charges were later dropped when the bartender failed to appear at Bach's trial. That November, just one year after his "Rocky Horror" debut, Bach was hired for what would be his third musical endeavor - a touring production of "Jesus Christ Superstar," set to run across the United States. At this time, Bach was also in the midst of an ongoing audition for what would eventually become the band Velvet Revolver. Though Stone Temple Pilots' lead singer Scott Weiland got the Revolver job, Bach committed himself to his "Superstar" role. The run as Jesus, however, came to an unceremonious end when his offstage behavior and disputes with the director got him fired just months later in April of 2003.
Despite his exit from the stage, the year 2003 found Bach taking on a different sort of acting challenge. Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of the WB's successful drama "Gilmore Girls" (2000-07), tapped Bach to play Gil, a goofy rock guitarist in the band featuring its regular character Lane. Bach's role was a hit and increased to the point where he was putting in multiple appearances in each season. He was also taking center stage on the small screen, playing a character very familiar to him. Headlining VH1's reality series, "I Married Sebastian Bach," (2004-06) he turned the cameras on himself, focusing on the balance between both his family and his rock life.
Thanks to Bach's multiple appearances on VH1 - especially commentary staples such as "I Love the '70s" (2003) "I Love the '90s" (2004) and "100 Most Metal Moments" (2004) - Bach was becoming something of a prominent pop culture figure again. He starred on the network's reality series, "SuperGroup" (2006), which featured within its ranks, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, "Motor City Madman" Ted Nugent, Biohazard bassist Evan Seinfeld and drummer Jason Bonham. The series documented the creation of a short-lived band called Damnocracy. On the show, the staunchly clean-living Nugent pulled rank on Bach and managed to get the famously fast-living singer to quit his alcohol intake entirely. That September, Bach switched the channel and continued his dalliance with reality television, singing a duet with actor Hal Sparks on "18 and Life" during Fox's hit reality competition, "Celebrity Duets" (2006).
At the close of 2006, Bach had returned to his first love, the world of rock 'n roll. While working on his solo CD Angel Down (2007), he was tapped by old friend Axl Rose as the opening act on a leg of Rose's reunited Guns 'n Roses tour. Ironically, when most rockers of his generation tended to dwell in clubs, two decades into his career, Bach was back in arenas, playing to the biggest audiences of his career.
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